Why We're Doing This

We know that pro-am journalism can work only if people are persuaded to give their time, lend their knowledge, pool their intelligence. Those are donations, but not of money. Often they are more critical than money.

To succeed in this, we have to persuade several hundred people to donate good work to one big story — and to swarm around so it gets really good. We plan to modify this site for use in future stories, more sprawling and more difficult. Maybe about the environment. Or the schools. Or — who knows? — the war.

A professional newsroom can’t easily do this kind of reporting; it’s a closed system. Because only the employees operate in it, there can be reliable controls. That’s the system’s strength. The weakness is the organization knows only what its own people know. Which wasn’t much of a weakness until the Internet made it possible for the people formerly known as the audience to realize their informational strengths. —Jay RosenWhy We’re Doing This (Assignment Zero)